This week has been so busy and there is so much to write about, but before I do I have to praise the 14 riders on our ‘Couch to 50K’ course, we often look on a challenge from our own perspective and miss that for others the road ahead is very daunting. On their first group ride today every rider put their fears and anxiety to one side and took massive steps towards their personal cycling goals. In just over six weeks time I will be in France and I know I will face times where I don’t feel I can carry on, at that point I will draw on the inspiration this group has given me today – no matter how hard something appears, nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.
My week started with another inspirational ride, a fellow Tour21 rider, Doug Robertson, and his wife Kate embarked on a Lands End to John O’Groats ride raising money for Cure Leukaemia on the way. For Doug this was an invaluable bonus to his training with back to back rides of over 100 miles each day. For Kate it was her opportunity to contribute to our efforts to raise £1,000,000. After being dropped off in Tewkesbury by Andy, I rode to Bristol to meet them. We then rode north towards Gloucester, where Andy met us before continuing on back through Tewkesbury to Upton on Severn. During the week I have followed their progress and was glad to see they arrived in John O’Groats on Saturday taking just 7 days to complete their journey, and even better they raised over £5,300 for Cure Leukaemia.
Wednesday I rode with Geoff Thomas, but our ride didn’t go as we expected. With heavy rain in the morning it was set to be a difficult ride before we even started. Our route was planned with a lunch stop in Wellesbourne and a total distance of over 100 miles. The rain soaked roads were covered in grit and debris and only 14 miles in Geoff punctured. A mixture of the wet, the cold and a new set of tyres meant we had trouble replacing the innertube; an hour later, three innertubes ruined, we were still trying … and failing … to repair the puncture, so we decided enough was enough. Geoff called his wife for a lift home and I rode back with a total mileage of less than 45 miles. Not the best preparation for France.
Friday was our third and final day at St Georges Park, a day of performance tests and information on the Tour ride. Next time we all meet up it will be in Copenhagen for the start of our Tour 21 ride. This was our last chance for a training ride together, we road a 28 mile route with an average speed of 18.5 mph, and must have looked impressive in our Santini Kit, riding through the grounds of St Georges Park. Back at the performance centre, Tim Marshall and Andy Parker, who rode in last years event, spoke about what we should expect giving us hints and tips to help us on the journey. Along with our ride Captain, Andy Cook, they spoke of the experience they had gained the year before. Their advice will be invaluable, it was not just the riding tips they gave that will help us, it was the ‘off bike’ ideas they shared to make sure we were ready for every part of our journey. In the afternoon it was a round of interviews for promotional activity that will be coming out soon and then the performance tests, with some very pleasing results for me improving on all the assessments.
During the day the reason we are doing this was brought home by a very special young lady. Allan Dickson, one of the Tour21 team brought his daughter along to the day. Liv has acute lymphoblastic Leukaemia and is currently undergoing an extensive 2 – 3 year chemotherapy treatment programme. She came to thank us for what we are doing and show us her beads, one for each treatment she receives. Thirteen children like Liv are diagnosed with childhood cancers everyday, the treatments they have to go through were brought home by those beads and made me more determined to raise that £1,000,000. Please help children like Liv by donating, finding a cure may seem impossible, but as our ‘Couch to 50’ riders taught me today – no matter how hard something appears, nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.